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City Hall in unitary pledge

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:41 01 July 2010

City Hall bosses said today they will protest in the strongest possible terms to the coalition government after it made clear its intention to stop the creation of a new unitary council for the city.

City Hall bosses said today they will protest in the strongest possible terms to the coalition government after it made clear its intention to stop the creation of a new unitary council for the city.

In its programme for government published yesterday, it has pledged to 'stop the restructuring of councils in Norfolk, Suffolk and Devon' and is now expected to introduce the necessary legislation in Parliament to ensure this happens.

However, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green members of Norwich City Council say they continue to be committed to a new unitary council and will make their feelings clear to the newly-formed government.

They claim the government has created an awkward position for the council as the structural orders for the implementation of the unitary council are still in place and it has a duty to carry out that work and to an extremely tight timetable.

The council will urgently be seeking clarification from the Department for Communities & Local Government (CLG) as to how it wants it to proceed.

In the meantime, it says, it will be reviewing its existing work programme and planned activities to avoid unnecessary costs and has already put on hold the recruitment of a chief executive and strategic directors for the new council.

Steve Morphew, leader of the city council, said: “The leaders of three of the political groups on Norwich City Council are united in their support for a new unitary for Norwich and a belief that one authority providing all key services in the city is the best way forward. They do not understand how this fits with the government's stated ambitions to 'give communities more power' and 'transfer power from central to local government' and will be making their protests known.

“What I would say is that our unitary preparation work has already been put to good use over the last few years, and has formed the basis of our neighbourhood working focus, cost reduction, our efficiency and improvement drive, strengthening our understanding of needs within the city area, and improving our profile in partnership discussions and negotiations.”

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “The sooner the government now follows through on this commitment with action in parliament, the sooner we will be able to fully concentrate our energies on the enormous financial challenges we face as an authority.”

The government also pledged to boost tourism, ensure super-fast Broadband is rolled out, scrap regionalised fire control centres and create a national high speed rail network for the whole of Britain.

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